This paper uses the Experience Sampling Method data drawn from a national sample of American youth. It examines the proximal environmental factors as well as behaviors and habits that correlate to personal happiness. Momentary-level scores show that reported happiness varies significantly both by day of week and time of day. Furthermore, particular activities are associated with varying degrees of happiness. School activities rate below average scores in happiness, while social, active and passive leisure activities are above average. Particular companions also correlate to differing level of happiness. Being alone rates the lowest levels of happiness, while being with friend corresponds to the highest. Person-level averages of happiness suggest that both higher social class and age correlate with lower levels of happiness, while gender and race do not. Paradoxically, youth who spend more time in school and social activities are happier than those who spend less. Unexpectedly, students who spend more time pleasure reading report lower levels of happiness. Finally, feeling good about the self, excited, proud, sociable, active as well as being in the conditions for flow experience are the strongest predictors of trait happiness.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Brickman, P., D. Coates and R.J. Janoff-Bulman: 1978, ‘Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (36), pp. 917–927.
Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1990, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (HarperCollins, New York).
Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 1997, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (Basic Books, New York).
Csikszentmihalyi, M.: 2003, Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning (Viking, New York).
Csikszentmihalyi, M and B. Schneider: 2001, ‘Conditions for optimal development in adolescence: An experiential approach’, Applied Developmental Science 5(3), pp. 122–124.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., R. Larson and S. Prescott: 1977, ‘The ecology of adolescent activities and experiences’, Journal of Youth and Adolescence 6(3), pp. 281–294.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., K. Rathunde and S. Whalen: 1993, Talented Teenagers: The Roots of Success and Failure (Cambridge University Press, New York).
Diener, E.: 2000, ‘Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index’, American Psychologist, 55(1), pp. 34–43.
Graef, R.: 1978, ‘An analysis of the person by situation interaction through repeated measures’, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Chicago.
Hektner, J.: ESM Handbook. (in preparation).
Inglehart, R. and H.D. Klingemann: 2000, ‘Genes, culture, democracy and happiness’, in E. Diener and E.M. Suh (eds), Culture and Subjective Well-being (The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA), pp. 165–183.
Kahneman, D.: 1999, ‘Objective happiness’, in D. Kahneman, E. Diener and N. Schwartz (eds), Well-being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russel Sage, New York), pp. 3–25.
Kubey, R. Larson and M. Csikszentmihalyi: 1996, ‘Experience sampling method applications to communication research questions’, Journal of Communication 46(2), pp. 99–120.
Lykken, D. and A. Tellegen: 1996, ‘Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon’, Psychological Science 7, pp. 186–189.
Moneta, G., B. Schneider and M. Csikszentmihalyi: 2001, ‘A longitudinal study of the self-concept and experiential components of self-worth and affect across adolescence’, Applied Developmental Science 5(3), pp. 125–152.
Patton, J.D.: 2002, ‘The role of problem pioneers in creative innovation’, Creativity Research Journal, 14(1), pp. 111–126.
Ryan, R. and C. Frederick: 1997, ‘On energy, personality, and health: Subjective vitality as a dynamic reflection of well-being’, Journal of Personality, 65(3), pp. 529–565.
Schwartz, N. and F. Strack: 1999, ‘Reports of subjective well-being: Judgmental processes and their methodological implications’, in D. Kahneman, E. Diener and N. Schwartz (eds), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russel Sage, New York), pp. 61–84.
Schmuck, P. and K.M. Sheldon: 2001, Life-goals andWell-being (Hogrefe & Huber, Göttingen).
Seligman, E.P.: 2002, Authentic Happiness (Free Press, New York).
Tellegen, A., D.T. Lykken, T.J. Bouchard, K.J. Wilcox, N.L. Segal and S. Rich: 1988, ‘Personality similarity in twins reared apart and together’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54, pp. 1031–1039.
Veenhoven, R.: 1995, ‘The cross-national pattern of happiness: Test of predictions implied in three theories of happiness’, Social Indicators Research 34, pp. 33–68.
About this article
Cite this article
Csikszentmihalyi, M., Hunter, J. Happiness in Everyday Life: The Uses of Experience Sampling. Journal of Happiness Studies 4, 185–199 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024409732742